21 July 2015 | markwood272
Quite a find and no subtitles required
Saw this via YouTube 7/20/15. I understood the dialogue only intermittently in this charmingly simple reworking of the Hollywood "hey-let's-put-on-a-show" formula. Only here the "show" is to consist of music, comedy, and a dose of strange advertising broadcast using a clandestine portable radio transmitter that is station "Radio X". This Gallic version of "pirate radio", a pacific reminder of the secret transmissions by the Resistance during the occupation, here delivers an audience to frustrated performers Philippe Lemaire, Christian Duvaleix, and Robert Destain among others. The attractive female lead played by Francoise Arnoul joins in to get back at her girdle-industry tycoon father (a Louis de Funes-esque Fred Pasquali) for his refusal to let her marry her singer-fiancé. The pirate transmitter hides first in the south. Here I really lost the dialogue, maybe because the French "southern" accent is hard for a non-francophone to understand.
But the important thing is the music, and the songs are a treat.
Later, with the police closing in on the group the operation takes to the road and eventually tickles the airwaves with music and song from a barge! The crowd of merrymakers grows to include the entire Ray Ventura Band – a truckload of musical talent. For good measure at one point the stars flag down George Raft himself motoring to a rendezvous with a "beautiful girl" according to his translation. I had expected him to say "dame".
Too many French films promoted for export sold to Americans as comedies turn out to be disappointingly serious, missing the famous French joie de vivre. But... if you want a good taste of that joie de vivre, the real thing captured on film, watch this movie. The joy and energy of these actors singing their way around France will get to you very quickly. With the exception of George Raft I had never heard of anyone associated with this movie, making the entire cast and crew a "discovery" for me. If someone ever puts together a French answer to "That's Entertainment" (1974), "Nous Irons a Paris" belongs there. The Ray Ventura orchestra loaded onto the back of a flatbed reminded me of the itinerant mimes in "Blow-Up" (1966) or the cross country bus trip (in more ways than one) of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters in 1964. But what somber affairs those were compared to this movie – the 1950 radio "pirates" had a much better time! The movie is similar in spirit to "Dragees au Poivre" (1963) and even "A Hard Day's Night" (1964). To repeat, watch this movie, even if you don't understand a word of the dialogue. The fun in this movie is its own international language, and no subtitles are needed.